Separated by less than 10 miles, Chelsea and Brentford once went over 60 years without facing each other in a competitive match, from 1947 until the 2013 FA Cup fourth round.
And then, because we missed each other so much, we immediately played again since we barely managed to avoid embarrassment in that 2-2 draw at Griffin Park (Fernando Torres of all people nabbed a late equalizer on a sandy pitch so bad, we even helped pay for a new one — since our Reserves as later our U21s played there for a spell, too). Chelsea won the replay quite handily, 4-0, which was also the scoreline of our meeting a few years later, in the 2017 FA Cup fourth round.
But Brentford are back in the top flight for the first time since 1947, and thus, we play a true “West London Derby” (if you want to call it that) league match against them for the first time in nearly three-quarters of a century. Unlike our meetings in the cup, this one isn’t necessarily expected to be a cakewalk — and not just because The Are No Easy Games In The Premier League™ — and especially as it’s the first match back from the latest bit of international distraction.
Date / Time: Saturday, October 16, 2021, 17.30 BST; 12:30pm EDT; 10pm IST
Venue: Brentford Community Stadium, Brentford, TW8 — Brentford moved into their new stadium last year, with Griffin Park now demolished and slated for redevelopment.
Referee: HAHAHAHAHHAAHHAHA (Anthony Taylor); Paul Tierney (VAR)
Forecast: Fairly mild, small chance of rain
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); NBC, Universo (USA); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); SuperSport MaXimo 1, Canal+ Sport 3 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: Sky Go (UK); NBC Sports Live, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo (USA); Hotstar (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Brentford team news: Thomas Frank’s busy Bees have had a relatively easy schedule so far, but they’ve made the most of it, losing just once (to Brighton, at home). They’ve beaten Arsenal, Wolves, and West Ham and drawn with Crystal Palace, Aston Villa, and Liverpool (unluckily). Only Brighton and Liverpool are currently above their 7th position in the table, which is pretty impressive considering that 5th is their highest ever top flight finish (in 1936).
Frank has been in charge since 2018 (17th longest in any of the top four divisions), having served as assistant for two years prior to that as well, and under his guidance, they’ve become a team to be feared, certainly in the lower levels, but also by Premier League opposition. The former Denmark youth coach has made the most of his club’s “Moneyball”-esque approach, and has helped turn the likes of Sergi Canós, Rico Henry, Josh Dasilva (no relation to former Chelsea youngster Jay Dasilva) and Ivan Toney into stars (see also: Ollie Watkins, Saïd Benrahma, etc.). Being able to hang on Toney, who set a Championship record with 31 goals last season was a major coup this summer as well (he has 2 goals thus far). Latest in that line could be Myles Peart-Harris, who joined the Bees this summer from the Chelsea Academy and made his debut in the 7-0 win over Oldham in the League Cup last month.
The aforementioned Dasilva had been a key player for them in recent seasons, but is currently recovering from a “rare” hip problem with no timeframe for his return, and is thus not registered to play at the moment. Other notable absentees include center back Mads Sørensen and midfielder Shandon Baptiste. Key defensive midfielder Vitaly Janelt and towering defender Kristoffer Ajer are expected to return from recent injuries however.
Chelsea team news: Four players are set to miss out, with Thiago Silva returning late (and in semi-quarantine, which allows him to play and train but not interact with the rest of the world or his family), Antonio Rüdiger and Christian Pulisic injured, and Hakim Ziyech “doubtful”.
Chelsea are top of the league, having navigated one of the toughest schedules in the league thus far. The next set of games before the November international break offer slightly ... “easier” ... fare — the next three after this are all against the current bottom three (Norwich H, Newcastle A, Burnley H) — but that just means that we have to keep fully focused and collecting all three points every time. Liverpool, Manchester City, et al. will likely continue to do the same in what is promising to be a very tight title race.
Previously: This will be just the 17th competitive meeting all-time between the clubs, and as mentioned above, just the fourth since 1947. Last time, Conte’s (also) league-leading Blues ran out easy 4-0 winners in the 2017 FA Cup, with Willian, Pedro, Branislav Ivanović, and Michy Batshuayi scoring. (César Azpilicueta and Ruben Loftus-Cheek both started that game.)